Alzheimer’s disease is a neurodegenerative condition that causes cognitive decline and memory loss. Check out this blog from YM to understand Alzheimer’s disease and learn about some recommended medications & treatments for this condition!
Understand Alzheimer’s Disease – Everything You Should Know:
What is Alzheimer’s Disease?
Dr. Alois Alzheimer first described Alzheimer’s disease in 1906, since which the condition earned its popular name.
Alzheimer’s is an umbrella term covering memory loss and other cognitive abilities serious enough to interfere with daily life. Alzheimer’s disease is now the sixth leading cause of death in the U.S.
Understand Alzheimer’s Disease | Causes
Alzheimer’s disease is a neurodegenerative condition caused by brain cell death and develops over time. The main features are a loss of connection between the neurons and the presence of plaques and tangles in the brain. Consequentially, information cannot process to different areas of the brain or between the brain and the muscles or organs.
Did you know?
- Plaques: are products of a protein known as beta-amyloid. They occur between the dying brain cells.
- Tangles: created by a protein called tau. They develop within the nerve cells.
Understand Alzheimer’s Disease | From Mild to Severe Stages
The scale of Alzheimer’s severity ranges from mild impairment to moderate and eventually severe cognitive decline.
In this stage, patients develop memory problems and cognitive difficulties, namely:
- Difficulty Exchanging Money or Making Calculations
- Losing Direction and Getting Lost
- Behavioral Changes (becoming bad-tempered, hiding things, or pacing)
In moderate Alzheimer’s disease, the parts of the brain responsible for language, senses, reasoning, and consciousness are damaged, leading to the following symptoms:
- Greater Memory Loss (e.g., difficulty recognizing friends or family)
- Hallucinations, Delusions, or Paranoia
- Impulsive & Unpredictable Behavior
- Difficulty performing tasks with several stages (e.g., getting dressed)
In severe Alzheimer’s disease, plaques and tangles are present throughout the brain, causing the brain tissue to shrink dramatically, resulting in:
- Communication Disorder or Inability to Communicate
- Total Reliance on Caregivers
- Inability to move or leave bed for most of the time
Understand Alzheimer’s Disease | Treatments & Medications
Reversing brain cell death is impossible; thus, Alzheimer’s disease remains incurable. As the symptoms worsen, patients find it harder to remember recent events or recognize their acquaintances and eventually become entirely dependent.
Although there is no cure for Alzheimer’s disease, some options may help relieve the symptoms and improve the patient’s and their families’ quality of life.
To Relieve Cognitive symptoms
For common symptoms of Alzheimer’s disease, three common drugs have the approval from the FDA:
- Rivastigmine (Exelon) for mild-to-moderate stages
- Galantamine (Razadyne) for mild-to-moderate stages
- Donepezil (Aricept) for all stages
To Cope with Emotional and Behavioral Changes
As mentioned, Alzheimer’s disease also links to unpredictable emotional and behavioral changes that can become a challenge to cope with. More often than not, these changes stem from external factors such as side effects of medications, discomfort from other medical conditions, changing caregivers, etc.
Therefore, healthcare professionals or caregivers need to identify the underlying causes to resolve those obstacles and boost their comfort and peace of mind.
In many cases, doctors may also recommend medications to cope with each respective symptom. For example:
- Antianxiety Drugs
- Antidepressants for Low Mood
- Antipsychotic Drugs for Delusions, Hallucinations, or Aggression
- The presence of tangles and plaques, along with brain cell death, causes Alzheimer’s disease.
- There is currently no cure for Alzheimer’s disease.
- Medications and treatments can help relieve the symptoms and cope with emotional/behavioral changes to improve patients’ quality of life.
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